July 9, 2010

Enjoying the Heat Wave

Posted in Food, Health, Serbia, Weather tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:38 am by Liliana

Pleasures of summer

Pleasures of summer

Large parts of the US and the world are suffering from an intense heat wave. The temperature and the humidity are high. The sun is unforgiving in its glare. It is not fun being outside.

The best thing to do is stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 10 am and 3 pm.) Stay in a cool place. Even if you do not have an air conditioner, you can take precautions. Open your windows during the night, and close and shade them during the day. Don’t exert yourself too much.

It is important to keep hydrated so drink lots of water. There is no substitute for water. Everything else (lemonade, sports drinks, coffee, etc.) should be in addition to it. Sip water all day or take frequent water breaks.

Eat small meals. Try eating a few smaller, lighter meals rather than one big portion. You will generate less heat and not feel as full.

Eat lots of fruit. Watermelons, strawberries, apples, cantaloupes and grapes are some of my favorite choices for hot summer days and all have a high water content. Try juicy peaches and other seasonal fruit – all at the height of ripeness, freshness and deliciousness.

Eat lots of vegetables. Fresh, crisp, refreshing salads are a perfect choice. Lettuce (so many varieties to choose from,) cucumbers, celery, spinach and peppers are all over 90% water. A bit of kosher salt, a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and some lemon juice – what can be more delicious?

Eat hot peppers, they make you sweat, and this process cools you down. Peppers are a big part of the Serbian culture, hot peppers and sweet peppers, all kinds of peppers. One of my favorite summer salads is Serbian Roasted Pepper Salad.

Don’t forget salt. Salt retains water, but since there is salt in so many foods we eat and in most sports drinks, don’t overdo it.  Let common sense be your guide.

Best wishes to all my readers. Stay cool but don’t merely endure this lovely season. Enjoy your summer. Revel in its pleasures.

April 14, 2010

Kaya at the Lake

Posted in Friendships, Pets, Weather tagged , , , , , , at 7:02 am by Liliana


Kaya as a puppy

My family and I spent a few days at our cottage near Lake Michigan. Kaya, my sister’s dog, came with us.

Kaya is a two year old Siberian Husky, taupe and caramel colored, with bright blue eyes. If Silver was a sensitive soul and Bella more intelligent and aware than many humans, Kaya is the kind of dog who loves everybody and everything and needs constant company. She also likes to be the continual center of attention.

On Friday, I woke up early to a sunny, blue-skied, but windy and chilly morning. I had a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal and hoped to snuggle under a warm blanket and read for hours while the rest of the house slept. But Kaya had other plans. She came over and sat down right in front of me and stared at my face with beseeching eyes. She knew I understood what she wanted.

After a few minutes, I couldn’t take the pressure any longer. I gave her the rest of my coffee and oatmeal and went upstairs to get dressed. I put on two pairs of pants, two sweaters, and a warm fleece jacket. I found my sunglasses and Kaya’s leash. She howled with joy.

We walked out into the sharp wind and the cold sunlight with Kaya leading the way. She knew the direction to the lake and kept lifting her nose and sniffing the wind like a scout. We crossed the bridge, and when she saw the lake in front of us, I had to hold on tightly as she pulled along.

The water was dark green, foaming with waves; the sky above was bright blue with white downy clouds. We had miles of beach on either side of us and no one around. Kaya stuck her nose into the sand like an ostrich, and then kicked the sand high into the air and all over me. Kaya is like that – she has an amazing sense of humor. Another thing that makes her different is her love of water. Unlike most huskies, Kaya runs into the water freely, and has no fear of getting wet.

Kaya and I played on that cold Lake Michigan beach like we had no cares in the world. We ran. We raced. We found an old tennis ball and played fetch, again and again and again. She pulled me through the water and the sand and I held on to her leash for dear life. We were both wet, sandy, cold and sore.

Back at the cottage, I washed the sand off the ball, dried it carefully and gave it to Kaya as she snuggled up for a nap. I took a long, hot bath.

March 31, 2010

Benefits of Drinking Water

Posted in Health, Home tagged , , , , , at 8:55 am by Liliana

Benefits of Drinking Water

Have a glass of water!

Drinking water is critical for a healthy body and a healthy mind. Our bodies are more than 60% water, and unless we drink enough of it, our bloodstream cannot dissolve and transport nutrients effectively. Our kidneys need water to filter wastes. We cannot maintain our skin tone, digestive flow, or regulate body temperature without enough water.

It is not only important that we drink sufficient amounts of water, but also that the water is high quality. Depending on where we live and whether the water is provided from a municipal site or from one’s own well, the quality of water will vary. Contamination can occur – not only from the water source but also for other reasons. Plumbing, and the type of pipes we have, makes a difference; whether we use a well; and, whether there is contamination from agricultural chemicals seeping through the ground. If you have concerns about the quality of your water, it is a good idea to get it tested. In general, it is best to filter both city and well water before consumption.

The quality of bottled water varies greatly. Some water is good quality while other is simply repackaged tap water. Bottled water can also be expensive and the plastic water bottles are not good for our environment.

Whatever option you choose for drinking high quality water, make sure that you drink enough of it during the course of each day. National Academy of Sciences recommends (in its Dietary Reference Intake recommendations) about 13 cups of water each day for men and 9 cups for women.

March 27, 2010

Make Your Bathroom Green

Posted in Cleaning, Health, Home tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:35 am by Liliana

Green Bathroom

Green Bathroom

Try a few simple and easy tips and change your own habits and the habits of your family. Small efforts add up to make a big difference.

  • Tub – Use this green, home-made cleaning product, instead of toxic chemicals: 1 teaspoon of liquid soap and a few drops of antibacterial essential oil to one cup of baking soda. Add enough water to form a paste; use with a sponge or brush to scour bathtub surfaces.
  • Toilet – widely used in many countries, a dual-flush toilet greatly cuts on water use. Most American models consume 3.5 – 7 gallons of water for every flush. Double-flush versions use 0.8 – 0.9 gallons ( for fluids) or 1.25 – 1.6 gallons (for solids).
  • Towels – Most towels are made out of conventional cotton. Cotton is a crop that uses more than 25 % of world’s insecticides and some of the most hazardous chemicals. Think of using organic cotton and bamboo towels that have been made with plant-based dyes.
  • Shower Curtains – Most shower curtains are made from polyvinyl-chloride or PVC. This is a kind of plastic that releases hormone-disrupting carcinogens into the air. Look for non-vinyl curtains instead.
  • Paper – If every family in US replaced a roll of ordinary toilet paper with one of 100 % recycled paper, we would collectively save 423,900 trees in one year.
  • Faucet – Turning water on for two minutes while brushing teeth wastes more than 2 gallons of water a year in the US. Remind yourself and your family members to turn water off.
  • Flooring –  Vinyl is frequently mistaken for linoleum, but it is not the same product. Real linoleum has been made from abundant natural materials (ex. linseed oil, pine resin, and powdered cork) since the nineteenth century.
  • Reusable Items – Keep your bathroom counter organized by placing bathroom items in glass jars of different sizes.
  • Bamboo – Bamboo fiber items (furniture, flooring and fabrics) are rated high in sustainability because bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on the planet.

Please send us your own ideas for keeping your house green!